Which Side Are You On?

A feminist economist could plausibly argue that men are dragging us into recession while women struggle to keep the economy afloat. After all, corporations (still mainly led by men) have slashed capital spending and job rolls, while retail consumers (a role in which women predominate) have gamely kept stores and their vendors in the black. This line of argument also gains support from the traditional stereotype of men as skinflints and women as shopaholics. But that part of the case doesn’t stand up to statistical scrutiny. A Gallup poll finds men as likely as women to see themselves more as spenders than as savers, with44 percent of men and 45 percent of women adopting that self-description. The real gaps on this matter are among age groups, as you can see from the chart. There is some variation by gender in the ways people shop. While 89 percent of men and women alike say they shop at least a few times a year at malls, department stores and “shopping areas,” women are more likely to be catalog shoppers (44 percent vs.33 percent) or to indulge in home shopping on TV (9 percent vs. 7 percent). Conversely, men are a shade more likely to be Internet shoppers (30 percent vs. 28 percent).